Welcome back everyone. When I last left you, It was Monday afternoon, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were in the great state of Maryland, headed to Washington District Of Columbia. We found the Parkway semi crowded as we approached the DC area at 5:00 in the afternoon. We found the Holiday Inn Express, checked in, unpacked. As I looked out the window for the view, to my amazement, our room overlooks the Northeast Corridor rail line. AMTRAK Northeast Commuter, Acela, and MARC lines ran by the window every five minutes. We walked around the four different sections. The grand hall, the midway (Mall), food court, and the Amtrak/MARC/VRE gates. We found the National and Alamo Co-Shared counter. No renters, just the agent filing paperwork. We moved on the Metro station, down the stairs, the escalators were all headed up. We walked around the White House and the Executive House. The streets have been blocked off or fenced off more than back in 2002 , when I last visited the nation’s capital, during the national law enforcement ceremony. We saw the protesters camped out in Lafayette Square. We walked over to the Museum of American History. We had lined up a tour of the railroad collection of the Smithsonian. After the tour, we wandered through the rest of the collection. We then went to the National Aquarium. Folks, we were not impressed. For being located in the basement of the Commerce Department, we were embarrassed that our visitors see this as our National Aquarium. Next up, was the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which my father was a charter member, who was later shot in the line of duty but survived, only to die later of the pancreatic cancer. Walking around the memorial, we headed to the National Building Museum. Walked around inside, but, did not go to the exhibits. To keep on the National Park theme, we visited Ford’s Theatre Museum, since the actual theatre was closed to an actual rehearsal. We then went across the street and went through the house where Lincoln died. We had never walked so much. We made our way back to Union Station, caught the hotel shuttle back for dinner and to pick up our car to head to the Jefferson, Lincoln, WWII, Vietnam, Korea memorials. I had been taken there at dusk on my trip before, so I thought it was the best time to introduce Mrs. Shuttletrain to them. She commented later, that indeed was the most memorable time to see them. After taking in the moments, we headed back to the hotel for a night’s rest.
Wednesday, the second full day in WDC. After breakfast, we caught the hotel shuttle back down to WUS. This time, we boarded the Metro, to the Smithsonian stop. We visited the Castle, then the Air & Space Museum, which is only part of the museum. The other is at Dulles airport. After the A&S, walked around the Washington Monument, then walked to the capitol, and up the hill. Then found the nearest metro station, to find Dupont Circle, to meet long time friend and former boss. After dinner, headed back to to WUS and out shuttle.I watched the trains pass by my hotel window for about an hour. Then off to bed.
Thursday, I wish I could do over again. Breakfast was good, packed the car and left the hotel, which was in the northeast part of DC, at 9:00 am. Our first destination, Arlington Cemetery, which by the way is the Robert E. Lee plantation. It only took us three hours to find the right road. In the process of being lost, we did find the US Air Force Memorial. Really nicely done. Once we used our eyes, instead of following the GPS directions. We parked our car, and began the walk, no cars allowed unless you’re in a funeral procession. We visited the Kennedy graves, then walked up the hill to the Lee House. The house is undergoing repairs, due to the earthquake. but the house was almost ready to bring the furniture back into the house. We toured the museum and the gift shop, then continued the walk to the Tomb Of The Unknown, saw the Changing of Guard. We visited the space shuttle memorials. It was getting late in the day, so we found our car and headed towards Manassas, VA which would be our stop for Thursday evening. We arrived and had enough daylight to visit the Manassas National Battlefield. Then checked into the Manassas Holiday Inn, yes, It was the only full service HI we would stay at during our trip. Just as we returned from dinner, the skies opened up with the biggest thunderstorm of the trip.
Friday morning, brought sunshine and cooler temps. We headed northwest towards Harpers Ferry, WV. we made a quick via in Leesburg, VA. The Chamber of Commerce is located in a old mill complex and train depot. Harpers Ferry is a town within a national park. The town is located between two rivers that come together. Railroads and the canals both fought each other in this town. As you probably guessed, the railroads won. The town has several remnants of old bridge supports. The town has two rail lines that converge into one over the river before it heads into the Harper’s Ferry Tunnel. Harper’s Ferry is a stop for AMTRAK’s Capitol Limited. The National Park Service does the history proud. After spending about four hours visiting the town, we started our journey over the West Virginia Mountains. Unlike three years ago, I drove the twists and turns. since Mrs. Shuttletrain almost turned to stone, after driving them. Reaching Ohio after dark, we made our way to Chillicothe for the night at the Holiday Inn Express.
The sun rose upon the horizon, that was our signal to begin the sightseeing in Chillicothe. First stop, for Saturday was the National Park Service’s Hopewell Historic Site. The Indian Mounds pre-dated, the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis. Moving on into Downtown Chillicothe to the Chillicothe Railroad Museum. The museum was started by a man and his wife that thought the railroad history of Chillicothe. The museum is housed in two Baltimore and Ohio cabooses. While small, added to the fact that the city wants to close the museum, this museum has a very good collection of memories. After taking to the volunteer that was manning the store this Saturday, I learned that the museum was indeed a labor of love. We left and continued westward along US 50 to Cincinnati. Hit another National Park Site, this time, the home of President Taft. Taft’s house has been preserved in it’s glory by the NPS. We made a quick pitstop at the Museum Center in Cinny, then had dinner at a nearby Big Boy. Our bed down stop for the evening, was Vincennes, Indiana at what else a Holiday Inn Express.
The final day of vacation wandering, started off like every morning on this wandering, breakfast then at eight, leave for the first stop. The George Rogers Clark National Monument was our first stop on the banks of the Wabash River. While the visitors center is small, the monument is one large cylinder made of Granite on the outside and Marble on the inside, The interior has several murals, which the Park Service has a wireless audio program that describes the murals. Very informative, and moving. With Indiana behind us, we crossed over into Illinois , and moved on down 5o, we paused in the town of Carlyle. The former B & O railroad station , still stands and is used by the CSX Louisville Division as a crew base, The station looks pretty good. After trying to dream about what it would have been like to see a steam engine just come over the rise and head into St. Louis. After coming back to to the current place of time, we piled back in the 2005 Jeep and wound our way to the Mississippi River and over the bridge we went back into our home state of Missouri. An hour later, we arrived back in the town of Washington. After thirteen days of wandering, it did feel different being back at home base. But I know the wanderings will continue soon.
Till next time…Please remember,,anytime is train time, and take those earbuds and cellphones off when your’re around railroads. If not for your sake, the other people affected by your bad decision.